Anti-Abortion Violence in the United States (1976- )

Posted on 2016-02-01 03:08

In 1973, the Surpreme Court decision Roe vs Wade made abortion legal in the United States for the first time. This turning point in women's rights history also brought opposition in the form of extreme violence. The religious notion that life begins at conception fuels the debate between pro-life and pro-choice groups. Soon after the supreme court decision was made, Anti-abortion extremists took to the streets protesting abortion clinics. Overtime, protesters escalated the confrontation by harassing patients at clinics and blockading entrances. When it was clear their actions did not obtain favorable results and the Surpreme Court decision was not going to be overturned, many felt it was necessary to take further action. The first reported attack was in 1976 which included arson; clinic bombings followed in 1978. Arsons and bombings continue to this day.

In the early 1990s anti-abortion extremists promoted their "pro-life" campaign by killing abortion providers. The first provider was murdered in 1993. The late 90s was scattered with arson, bombings and shootings all around the country. In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot and killed in his home in Amherst, New York. In 2009, another provider named George Tiller, was shot and killed in his church in Wichita, Kansas. This past year alone there were four arsons and one murder. In November 2015, a police officer and two people at a clinic were killed when a gunman entered a clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Anti-abortion extremists have also used chemicals to block women’s access to abortion using butyric acid to vandalize clinics and sending anthrax threat letters to frighten clinic staff.

Women’s health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, which obtain funding from the federal government, have experienced an increase in hostility, especially in the South. State officials are passing laws to defund the clinics even though they do not use tax payer money to conduct abortions, which only represent 3 percent of their overall services. Millions of uninsured and low-income women rely on women’s clinics such as Planned Parenthood for a plethora of other healthcare services. When these clinics are defunded or shut down, women are often forced to travel long distances just to be seen. While it is easy to read about and dismiss women’s limited access to abortion clinics, photos provide a greater understanding to the emotional investment involved in this particular conflict in the United States. Photos of protesters outside clinics show the true anger individuals feel for the service provided, the staff of providers, and the individuals seeking care. Photo’s of clinic escorts show the commitment of neighborhood volunteers in ensuring patients feel safe and comfortable accessing the care they need. Most of all, photos of patients show women from all walks of life who come to these clinics for judgement free care.

Taylor Schaefer
Konflictcam Associate